Coastal marine species, fisheries, subsistence harvests and mariculture operations in Alaska have long been adversely affected by harmful algal blooms (HABs), especially paralytic shellfish poisoning events, with events increasing during recent marine heat waves. Alaska shellfish and fish species, and the
marine industries that depend on them, also face potential near-term threats from ocean acidification (OA), due both to the presence of “cold and old” ocean waters with low pH and low aragonite saturation on the shelf, as well as biological and physical processes that change acidification conditions spatially in estuary and coastal waters, as well as on daily to seasonal to interannual time scales. Scientists, resource managers, public health officials, oyster farmers, fishermen, Alaska Native tribes, and other stakeholders have come together in statewide collaborations to address HAB and OA threats in Alaska through improved communication, monitoring, research and event response. The Alaska HAB Network and Alaska OA Network are both coordinated by the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS), part of the national NOAA Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), and leverage existing agency and coastalcommunity programs and partnerships. Near-shore time series measurements are starting to capture how HABs and OA are affected by changing ocean temperatures, upwelling of shelf waters,
phytoplankton blooms, sea ice changes and freshwater inputs from precipitation and glacier/snowpack melt. These observations, in combination with research on species sensitivities and downscaled climate modeling, can be used to produce the more detailed, spatially explicit HAB and OA risk assessments needed to guide fishery management, public health, and mariculture development decisions in Alaska.
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